The steel collapse decimated Pittsburgh and its region, taking with it nearly 1 out of every 10 jobs there. Entire towns surrounding the city became obsolete. But it is because of that failure, that absolute bottoming-out, that Pittsburgh has been able to cast aside its past and emerge as a unique showcase of what a small, bustling, connected American city can eventually become. The example of Pittsburgh is to fail on the failures and invest in the attributes- granted, of which the 'Burgh had many, in its beautiful architecture, old establishment money, intact communities and ethnic organizations, and cultural trusts and universities- that a place already has. It is a tale not so much for cities facing similar problems to the Pittsburgh of 30 years past, as it is for the country as a whole in this stage of national transmogrification.Like Pittsburgh did, the country needs to realize that failure is an option. Failure can be a catalyst for movement and for action. Failure can be a paradoxical assertion of American greatness. It is time for great structural changes that reinvest in our national attributes- granted, of which America has many, in its beautiful architecture, old establishment money, intact communities and ethnic organizations, and cultural trusts and universities- rather than band-aiding failed foreclosure prevention policies.
I look at the exodus of young adults during the early 1980s as a success, not a failure. The regional economy diversified. A better educated populous was able to find opportunity wherever it may be. I suppose one could claim that manufacturing was allowed to fail. That's not what happened.
The above aired, I can appreciate how the urban frontier is a geography of failure. The city is so broken that it can be reborn. Pittsburgh was never that devastated, not even close. The image of rapid transformation since the "steel collapse" is a myth. It's the perception of place that has shifted.
If you want to see failure in Southwestern Pennsylvania, tour the Mon Valley. This landscape is nothing to celebrate. It is not a model of revitalization and economic development. The ashes from whence a Phoenix could rise is found here.